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melt the snow with love, winter

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“What kind of girls do you like?”

“Oh, I like cute and meek girls, you know? The shy and calm ones are the best. Not that loud and outspoken girls are not attractive, they are and they are beautiful, but you know, everyone has their preferences.”

 

Bucky sat there, nervously anticipating the arrival of the blind date he was supposed to meet. The atmosphere of the tea shop Natasha had suggested they meet was calm and serene. He was staring at the tea pot when he heard sounds of the sliding door opened. He looked up and was greeted with a fair skinned girl with waves of strawberry blonde hair tumbling down to her chest, adorned with a cute and simple white floral dress. Bucky quickly stood up.

“Hi, how are you?” Bucky asked first, as it was polite. The girl nodded her head with a smile and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and accepted Bucky’s outstretched hand.

“Hi, I’m good. How are you?” Her voice was sweet and melodious. Bucky felt his smile widening.

“I’m fine, thanks. I’m Bucky.”

“Charlotte.” She said. Bucky gestured her to her seat and they both sat down.

“You nervous?” he asked. She laughed a little and nodded her head. She has dimples in her cheeks. “Is this your first time on a blind date?”

“Yeah.” And Bucky decided he liked her dimpled smile.  

 

“Which one do you want?” Bucky asked, hand comfortably slung around her shoulder. She fit right into his side, her head just reaching his chest. Her eyes darted over the rows hand made bracelets. They were all so pretty, she doesn’t know what to pick.

“Um, I don’t know. What about you choose for me?” she asked. She scanned the bracelets again, and she was secretly hoping Bucky would choose the one with the small jagged crystals and white pearls.

“Well, I think this looks pretty.” Bucky said and pointed at the exact bracelet that she wished he’s pick. Her smile widened.

“Yeah, it does.”

“The purple here looks beautiful with your eyes.” He said and picked it up. Charlotte turned pink and kept quiet as Bucky paid the old lady vendor who smiled and thanked them. He didn’t immediately put it on her, instead he pulled her wrist towards the park. Charlotte weaseled her hand out and linked her fingers with his. He glanced down briefly for a smile and they both stopped under a tree that was potted in a high concrete pot.

Charlotte looked up as Bucky took her hand into his bigger ones. His thumb rubbed the inside of her wrist as he gently fastened the bracelet around her. His eyes crinkled in his smile.

 “There. Pretty.” He said. He didn’t quite let go, and Charlotte finds herself not minding that he didn’t. When Bucky realized that he was holding on her for too long, his eyes widened in embarrassment and he slowly pulled away. “Uh, ah... sorry.” He apologized sheepishly.

“Thank you.” She said and looked at the bracelet on her hand. “It’s very nice of you to buy me this.” She looked up to him with a wide smile. Bucky gulped and felt his heart doing somersaults in his chest.

“Uh, yeah. I mean, uh.” Bucky was flustered. Charlotte giggled at his reaction. Just then Bucky’s phone buzzed in his pocket. “Um, sorry. Again.” He said as he fumbled his phone out. He took one look at the message, and Charlotte saw his face hardened. Bucky blinked and Charlotte saw that expression dissolve and turned into guilt. “I’m sorry, I need to go. Emergency.” He said while waving his phone.

“Oh, sure.”

“I’m really sorry.” Bucky looked so guilty, Charlotte couldn’t help herself. She pulled Bucky down by his collar gently. Bucky, surprised, followed and his eyes widened when her lips landed on his cheek. It was a short and sweet peck.

“Thank you for a great second date.” She said with her dimpled smile. Bucky’s face turned red, and he nodded, stumbling backwards. She laughed, and Bucky really liked the sound of that. “Bye, Bucky.” She waved.

“Bye.” He said. He walked away, but he turned. “So uh... third?” His face was hopeful.

“I’ll text you for our third date.” She gave him another dimpled smile that put the sunrise to shame. Bucky waved back before turning around and jogging back home, heart leaping in his chest.

 

Bucky sat on his bed with a wince, taking off his Winter Soldier mask. Getting injured during missions is the one thing he hates the most. He groaned as Steve helped took off his tattered tactical vest. The blond furrowed his eyebrows in worry as he check his friend for injuries.

“That’s a nasty slash, Buck.”

“Yeah? Big surprise.” Bucky rolled his eyes. “Wonder how I got that, huh?” Steve’s ears turned pink at the statement. Bucky noticed his friend’s guilty eyes, and he let his shoulders sag down. “Hey Stevie.” His voice was gentler. “Not your fault. Said I’m always gonna watch your left, right?”

“Yeah.” Steve sighed. “Sorry Buck.”

“It’s nothing. Don’t need to go to medic, right?” Bucky hates doctors. He always feels uncomfortable in a medical facility. Steve shook his head.

“No need. It’s not that deep. I’ll get the first aid.” Steve stood up and went into the bathroom. Bucky ran his hands through his hair. It was good thing he’d cut it short. The mission involved tight spaces and prickly thorns, and his long hair would have been tangled. Guess Natasha was right about cutting it before his blind date and-

Bucky scrambled at his bedside table for his phone. He winced at the pain that shot up from the wound, but he had endured worst than that. He unlocked it and was delighted to see a message notification.

Saturday at 8? Dinner?

Bucky almost giggled like a high schooler. He felt giddy all over, and he pondered for a while before texting back.

Sounds great. Your pick or mine?

He hit the send button and waited eagerly. He looked at the time. It was only 9 p.m. and she shouldn’t be asleep yet. Bucky stared at his phone anxiously, and gasped when his phone vibrated and a new message popped up.

Surprise me

And she placed a winking face emoji at the end. Bucky felt like his heart stopped. She added a winking face emoji? Holy shit, are they progressing too fast? Is this a bad thing? Bucky hope its not. He likes her, and he would very much appreciate that she doesn’t find him weird.

Bucky was so engrossed with his phone, he didn’t notice Steve leaning on the bathroom door frame, watching him.

“Who you texting, Buck?” Steve’s sudden voice startled Bucky. He almost dropped the phone, and Steve stared bemusedly at his friend. Bucky doesn’t startle easily, but his friend seemed particularly jumpy tonight.

“Ah, no one.” He said, placing his phone back down. One thing Steve knows is that Bucky is a terrible liar. The man wears his heart on his sleeves, and HYDRA made sure their prized asset never lies outside missions, hence why Bucky is such a terrible liar in real life. He is a pretty convincing liar during missions where he has to go undercover, but you could easily tell he’s hiding something when he is just being himself.

“You’re terrible liar, you do know that?” Steve said as he approached him. Steve knelt down on the floor next to the bed and lifted a warm wet cloth. He wiped the wound clean gently. “You know you can tell me anything, right Buck?”

“Yeah.” Bucky exhaled. They were quiet for a while as Steve finished cleaning. “Well,” Bucky started as Steve uncapped a bottle of antiseptic. “You know how Natasha set me up on a blind date a week ago?”

“Of course I remembered. She cut your hair for that date. You look like the old 40’s Bucky again. Gave me a shock when you came back from the hairdresser.” Steve said as he dabbed the ointment on Bucky’s wound. A normal person would wince in pain, but Bucky seemed immune to trivial pains like that. Then again, a normal person would go to the hospital with a slash this big. Thanks to the super soldier serum they both have, they heal pretty fast hence a hospital visit is unnecessary.

“Yeah. We uh, kinda went out for a second date before I got called for the mission.” Bucky said. Steve’s hands stopped.

“Wait, really?”

“Yep.” Bucky nodded.

“Huh. No wonder you were dressed so nicely.” Steve chuckled as he proceeded to wrap the bandage around Bucky’s chest. “She doesn’t know, though? That you’re the Winter Soldier?” Bucky shook his head.

“That’s why I wear a mask on missions Steve.” Bucky snorted. “Don’t want to be bombarded by people whenever I wanna get milk at the supermarket like you guys.” Steve gestured to the metal arm.

“And the arm?”

“Oh. Told her I was a war vet. Technically I am, and I still lost it during a battle.” Bucky said with a grin. Steve rolled his eyes as he cleared the bandages back into the first aid kit.

“What’s her name?”

“Charlotte. Short, blond hair. Pretty eyes and dimples.” Bucky described. Steve tried imagining her. “She showed up in a 1950’s style floral dress on our blind date.”

“Huh, sounds cute.” Steve commented. Bucky nodded his head. “Guess she knows how to attract guys like you with that 1950’s dress huh?” He let Steve walk back to the bathroom to store the kit.

“That’s the old me.” Bucky waved his hand dismissively. “Ain’t a player this time. Trying to look for a real relationship now.”

“Wow, that sounds like a Tinder profile quote.” Tony suddenly appeared at their bedroom door. Steve sighed as he closed the bathroom door.

“What happened to knocking? People nowadays have no manners at all.” Steve nagged. Tony rolled his eyes right in front of the man as he entered. He plopped on the bed next to Barnes and laid down as if it was his own bed.

“Come lie down Barnes. Pepper’s out in DC for a conference and Rhodey is roasting his ass at Congress. I need my post mission cuddles.” Tony patted the space next to him. Bucky shook his head at the ridiculousness of that but he still laid down. He opened his right arm.

“Careful of the chest wound.” Bucky reminded as Tony snuggled right onto his side. Tony propped his head up on Bucky’s shoulder.

“Yesh, nasty.” He wrinkled his nose in distaste. “Nothing a little super serum blood magic can’t fix right?” Tony yawned as he situated his face in the crook of Bucky’s neck. “Sooooo tired.”

“How come when Tony barges in and demand cuddles you let him but when I want a hug after a life and death situation you find 1000 excuses not to give me one?” Steve questioned. He watched as Tony hook his leg over Bucky’s.

“Jealous, Capsicle?” Tony taunted, eyes closed.

“I am not jealous! I was just-” Steve was interrupted when Bucky shushed him louder than he needs to.

“Shhhhhh.” He said, left index finger over his lips. “Baby’s tryna sleep.” He gestured to Tony.

“But-”

“Waaa. Someone’s being loud.” Tony whined. Bucky glared at Steve. The man just lifted his hands in the air.

“Whatever. Fine then.”

 

On Friday, Bucky still doesn’t have a plan to go on a date with Charlotte. He was so busy throughout the week he couldn’t find the time to spend time and think about it. After dinner, he went to his bedroom to do research. He was going through multiple websites when he heard a knock. He didn’t have to look up. Only a few people in this house knocks, and the soft knock is familiar to only one person.

“Come in, Natasha.” Bucky said, eyes not looking up. He heard light footsteps moving towards him and a dip in the bed when she sat down. A warm body enveloped from behind as Natasha rested her cheek on Bucky’s shoulders, eyes peeking to the screen.

“Hmm... dinner plans?” Natasha asked. Bucky hummed.

“I have no idea where to take her.” Bucky groaned as he rested his head against Natasha’s. “What do you recommend?”

“For the nice Charlotte girl?” Natasha raised a brow. Bucky let out a whiny ‘yes’ as he continued scrolling down the search bar. “Well what does she like?”

“I don’t know! This is only the third date, so I don’t want to come off as too much, you know?” he said. Natasha sat up and took the tablet off his hand.

“You are so lucky I like you, you know?” she said as she typed in her search. “Here.” Natasha passed the tablet back to Bucky. Bucky scanned throught the website before a smile slowly spread on his lips.

“You’re the best.”

“I know.”

 

Bucky took deep breaths. He looked down on his outfit. Pepper had picked it for him after Natasha ratted out that he has a date planned. Pepper went insane with clothes to the point that she had actually called a seamstress from Paris. After Bucky convinced her that there is no way the clothes would arrive from Paris is such a short time notice, Pepper dragged him out to shop the next day before the date.

He was donned in a deep red shirt, three of the top buttons were unbuttoned, exposing the skin that Pepper assured him was not too ‘scandalous’ (Bucky’s words). A black bomber jacket covered him. The black jeans that he wore complimented his ‘delicious thunder thighs’ (Natasha’s words) disappeared in the boots he was wearing. He hopes that it wasn’t too much.

Bucky knocked.

The door opened to reveal Charlotte in an adorable red front knot wrap dress. She smiled up at Bucky.

“Hi.” She said. Bucky had to blink several times before human functions were back to normal.

“Hi.” He said. “Y-you look great.” Bucky had never been nervous in front of a girl before. Heck, he was Bucky Charming-The-Panties-Off-Dames Barnes back in the 40s. After HYDRA and all the bullshit he went through, he guessed he became a different person.

“Thanks. You look good too. Look, we match!” she said happily as she closed her front door. Bucky smiled weakly. She stepped down the porch, her short heels clicking on the pavement. Bucky followed behind. “Oh!” she turned around.

“You forgot something?” Bucky asked.

“Yeah.” She stepped closer and pulled him down, him being too tall despite her wearing heels. This time her lips landed on his, and Bucky’s eyes widened. She pulled back, and giggled at Bucky’s surprised face. “I forgot that.” She smiled cheekily. Bucky touched his lips. He feels all tingly inside. “Bucky?”

“Yeah?” Bucky shook his head out of his daze. He figured he was smiling like the world’s biggest idiot right now, but he doesn’t care.

He just got his first kiss in 70 years, and it felt damn good.

As per Natasha’s recommendation, Bucky took her to a beach side restaurant and bar. The tables were fitted with straw umbrellas, and the place was lighted with artificial torches and fairy lights. There was music, and after the meal Bucky had pulled her to dance on the sand, joining other’s who were also feeling the music. She had laughed and opened her shoes before relenting with Bucky’s pulls. She was slightly tipsy from the alcohol, but Bucky wasn’t thanks to his metabolism. He kept her upright, laughing with her as she kept tripping. The music was fun and the atmosphere was vibrant. After exhausting themselves with dancing, Bucky had asked her on a walk along the seaside.

Charlotte has Bucky’s jacket around her, and he was carrying her shoes in his hand. They talked as they walked, enjoying the quiet and calm atmosphere. She asked if they could sit down and rest for a while, and Bucky agreed. The sat down side by side on the sand, heads tilted towards the stars. This part of the beach was further away from the city, so the twinkling stars were visible. Charlotte laid her head on his shoulder.

“I had fun.” She said after a while. She yawned a little. “But I’m tired now, though.” Bucky has his arms around hers and rubbed her shoulders.

“Well, you danced pretty hard back there.” He said with a chuckle. “It was hard to keep up.” She whacked his chest with the back of her hand playfully.

“Hey, you know, I used to dance at high school. Won prom queen, too.” She said proudly. Bucky didn’t know what a prom queen is, but she sound so proud of herself that he thought that it must have been an important event.

“Congratulations.” She laughed.

“That was years ago, Bucky. But thanks.” She snuggled into his warm body. They were quiet for a while. Bucky let her play with his metal fingers. Her smaller ones traced his palm. “Do you feel with these?”

“I used to not feel anything. But Ton- uh, Stark Industries designed a new model that has sensors in it so yeah, I can feel now. Not as good as your normal flesh hand, though. But I can feel.”

“Wow. This is from Stark Industries?” she marveled at the hand. “It must have cost a fortune. Look at the design.” She looked up at him. “If I don’t mind asking, how much was the arm?”

“Uh...” Bucky struggled for an answer. Charlotte took his stutter as a bad sign.

“Oh god, sorry! You don’t have to tell me! That was such a personal and rude question!” she flailed. Bucky shook his head.

“No it’s okay. It was uh... a bunch of my friends helped.” Bucky said. “War vet pensions don’t go that far, sadly.” Bucky said with a grin. Charlotte looked at him.

“I don’t know if this is a too personal question, but...” she hesitated, and Bucky prodded her on. “Well, people always said that you know, war vets have PTSD or some sort of trauma after they come back from war. Do you have those?” she blinked up at him. “I mean, it’s totally cool to have some. I just wanted to know.” Bucky was quiet for a while. He didn’t know how to answer that.

Trauma? PTSD? Heck, he couldn’t even be in a same room with anybody without pulling out a knife or two when he was first rescued by the Avengers. He spent time at Wakanda, and with the help of Shuri and her brother T’Challa, he was finally able to recover. He got his memories back and his trigger words were erased. Even though everything was fine and dandy now, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t get nightmares and flashbacks to moments he’d rather not remember.

“Bucky?” Charlotte softly called. Bucky didn’t respond. His eyes were glazed over as he tried to will away some bad memories. “Bucky.” Her voice was gentle, but it was also firm. Bucky felt a hand on his cheek, and he blinked the memories away.

“Huh?” his eyes tried focusing on Charlotte’s face. She had a small smile on.

“Bucky, you need to let go of my hand.” She said. Bucky looked down and saw that he was currently gripping Charlotte’s hand in his metal ones, her fingertips white from the cut off blood flow. Her expression was still calm though. Bucky quickly released it, face horrified.

“Oh god, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to-”

“Bucky, it’s okay.” She assured him, ignoring the dull throbbing pain. She flexed her fingers. “See? Nothing’s wrong. You didn’t do anything.” Bucky shook his head frantically.

“No, you don’t understand. I could’ve hurt you. I could have...” Bucky pulled back his hands. “The arm. It did... lots of terrible things.” Bucky was talking too fast after that, and Charlotte instinctively reached out, holding his face in her hands. Bucky stopped talking, but he didn’t push away the fingers that were gently scratching the stubble around his jaw.

“Bucky,” her voice was soft. “It’s okay.” She repeated. “I’m not mad. I’m not hurt.”

“But I could’ve-”

“But you didn’t.” She said firmly. Her eyes were looking straight into Bucky’s, and the latter feels like he couldn’t look away even if he wanted to. “Oh Bucky, in war, good people sometimes have to do terrible things, and that’s okay. You didn’t mean to do them, right?” Bucky exhaled and closed his eyes.

“No.” Bucky said.

“See? You never meant to, but you had to. People in war do that, Bucky, but it doesn’t reflect who you are.” When Bucky opened his eyes, he saw that Charlotte had tears gathering in hers. “I’m sorry for bringing up the topic. You’re so brave, Bucky.”

“You don’t know what I did. I don’t think I could be counted as brave.” He said, sounding a little bit amused. She smiled. The dimples came out again.

“Anyone who faced danger and survived are brave.” She said. A tear slipped out, and Bucky reached with his flesh hand, thumb gently swiping the tear away. They were quiet for a while.

“This is a pretty intense third date, huh?” he said. She laughed. Finally.

“Yeah. Kinda. But I enjoyed it.”

“Me too.” He said. They looked into each other’s eyes for a moment. Long moments, actually, before Bucky finally had the nerve to lean down. His eyes flickered to her’s, and seeing that she wasn’t rejecting the notion, he closed the gap between them.

His flesh hand gently gripped the back of her neck, guiding her closer to him, and his metal hand was resting on her hip. Charlotte tasted like fruits and the wine they had earlier. He felt small hands tugging the collar of his shirt closer, and he followed, scooting closer to her. When they finally part, Bucky was breathless. He leaned his forehead against hers, a wide smile on his face.

She gave him a shy smile, and Bucky nearly leaped on her. Instead, Bucky hugged her, pressing her face close to his chest. She reciprocated by hooking her arms around him. After a few moments, Bucky leaned back.

“Come on. Let’s go back.” She nodded, and Bucky ended up carrying her on his back on the way to the car, the sound of their laughter ringing through the night.

 

It was movie night, which is just a poor excuse for everybody to cuddle with everybody (but no one wants to call it cuddle night. They have an image to uphold for fuck’s sake). Bucky was seated on the couch, Steve sitting on the floor in between his legs, head leaning on his knee. Tony has forever gained the position of cuddling Bucky on his left side (‘Hey, I gave him an arm, I get to cuddle that arm. Goddammit get off me Nat), the genius already wrapped up like a human burrito under all the blankets he made Bruce wrap him in. Bruce simply complied and took a seat next to Steve on the floor, their legs touching as a popcorn bowl was balanced on both their thighs.

Natasha is leaning on Bucky’s right shoulder, sitting cross-legged with Clint’s head on her lap. The archer took up the remaining space of the couch, slinging his leg on Sam’s lap as well. Wanda had taken to sit next to Steve’s other side, her head also leaning on Bucky’s knees. Bucky always complained about them and their weird obsession towards his knees, but all he got as a response was Wanda saying ‘but your knees are a valuable prime real estate’ to him in a straight face.

 “Okay guys. What movie?” Sam asked as Clint finally stopped squirming, trying to find a comfortable position to lie and also watch the television.

“Horror!” Tony hollered from his burrito blanket.

“Oh please no.” Bucky frowned. “Steve gets scared in the middle of the night and I hate sharing beds.” Steve looked up and glared. Bucky just chuckled and ran his hand through his friend’s hair in an effort to soothe him. Steve wanted to protest, but Wanda patted his thighs in comfort. Steve pursed his lips and relented, turning back to face front, smiling a little when Bucky gently scraped his blunt nails on his scalp. He melted into the touch.

“The new Mission Impossible movie.” Bruce said, mouth full of popcorn.

“Yes!” Clint cheered. When everyone agreed, Tony asked JARVIS to play it. The lights automatically dimmed as the opening scene unfolds.

Halfway through the movie, Tony is already sleeping. Bucky adjusted him so that he would be sleeping with his head on his lap. Tony curled further into his blanket burrito, mumbling something under his breath that sounds like motor oil. Bucky also noticed the Steve was nodding off when the movie is two thirds done. Clint was excited. He was vibrating every minute of it, and Bruce gave commentaries every now and then.

When the movie is done, Bucky shook his knee a little, waking up Steve. Sam had to carry Tony to bed, the man still mumbling about motor parts under his breath. Wanda and Nat retreated back to their rooms, and Clint said he’d stay for a midnight snack. Bucky pulled the sleepy Steve to their room.

Tony had offered Bucky his own room, but he refused. He doesn’t trust himself to be alone in a room, so Steve was the logical roommate. If anything happens to him, if whatever Shuri did wasn’t enough, Steve is strong enough to hold him back.

“Hey, don’t sleep on me.” Bucky said as he opened the door to their room, Steve half asleep, hands hugging Bucky’s flesh arm. During the day, Steve is Captain America, but at night he’s Captain Cuddly. Bucky shook his head and walked inside, half dragging Steve. He dumped his friend unceremoniously on his bed, and went to his own bed. “JARVIS, switch off the lights please.”

“Goodnight, Sergeant.” The A.I said as the lights slowly dimmed and went out. Bucky yawned.

“Goodnight.” He replied. He closed his eyes, trying to will himself to sleep. After a few toss and turns, he frowned. Why can’t he sleep?

“Bucky?” Steve’s voice was a loud whisper in the dark room. “You awake?” Bucky gave a loud snore. “Stop that, you’re so immature.”

“Literally 10 minutes ago you were drooling on my shoulder. Now you can’t sleep?” Bucky said. He could imagine Steve’s sheepish smile.

“Sorry. I guess sleeping through the movie’s gonna keep me awake for a while.”

“Oh gee, lucky me.” Bucky said dryly. He could hear Steve snort from the other bed.

“So,” he heard sheets rustling. Steve was turning in his bed so he could face Bucky’s bed. “How did date number three go yesterday?”

“Uh,” Bucky blinked. “It went great. Almost had a meltdown, but she handled it well.”

“She did?” Steve sounds surprised. “That’s great, Buck.”

“Yeah.”

“She’s a keeper, huh?”

“Hope so.” Bucky smiled to himself when he thought about Charlotte. “Said I was brave, and that good men did bad things in war and it ain’t their fault.”

“Well she’s right you know.” Steve folded his hands over his stomach. “Kept telling you that for these past years. Didn’t think a dame was all it took for that to drill inside your head.” Steve said in an amused tone.

“I almost snapped her hand off.” Bucky said. Steve was quiet. “She wasn’t mad. Didn’t even bat an eye. Could’ve hurt her, but she stayed. Didn’t run off. She wasn’t scared.” Bucky flexed his metal fingers under the covers. “She wasn’t scared.” He repeated softly, as if it was to himself.

“She’s really something.” Steve said. “Can I meet her?”

“Hell no. She can’t know I’m the Winter Soldier.”

“Not gonna tell you were.”

“You’re Captain fucking America, Rogers. Pretty sure she could put two and two together.” Bucky snorted. “Idiot.”

“Hey!”

“Sleep, Steve. You get stupider by the second.” Bucky said as he turned to face the wall. “Maybe the next morning you wake up smart. Gotta pray hard.”

“Jerk.”

“Punk.” Bucky replied fondly. Steve huffed and closed his eyes. Bucky did the same, and finally, sleep came.

 

Bucky gritted his teeth as he rolled his shoulders. So much for operation stealth and steal. These goddamn Ruskies are coming from every angle, and since it isn’t code green yet, Bruce is still in the Quinjet. Without the Hulk, things seems a little bit complicated than usual. He heard a blast behind him and turned around. Tony had blasted off three men from sneaking up on him.

“Getting Rusty there, Robocop?”

“Thought I could take a nap for a while.” Bucky replied and aimed his rifle high up in the trees. One, two bullets, and two snipers fell down. “The fuck is Steve doing so long in there? I wanna get outta here.”

“Engaging.” Came Steve’s muffled reply from the comms. “Didn’t think you noticed, but these guys are insistent in protecting whatever data is in that server.”

“Can’t you just,” Bucky ducked behind the overturned truck as streams of bullets rained down. Tony lifted a hand blaster and shot the tank to pieces. “Do those things wireless? I thought the future was supposed to be great.”

“Doesn’t work that way, Buckaroo. Heads up.” Bucky let out a loud sigh of frustration before turning back up front, shooting whoever came close.

“Well someone’s gotta go on and help Steve. That idiot’s not gonna know how to work all those fancy electronics.”

“Hey!”

“On it.” Was Natasha’s reply. Tony behind him flew off, probably searching for Clint to help. Bucky sank down on his ass when he was sure the line was clear. Sometimes, he really hates missions. Like, really hate. It’s a weekend and he’s supposed to be chilling at the tower, trying to finish his Eugene Onegin novel while sipping his favourite iced peach tea on the terrace but no, some rogue Russian organization had to suddenly have critical intel on whatever the fuck SHIELD wants so here they are.

He didn’t even think when JARVIS said there was a call directed to him. He just automatically answered.

“Yeah?” he was a bit breathless.

“Bucky?” Bucky sat up straight at the voice. What the fuck?

“Oh, Charlotte. Hi.”

“Are you okay? You’re panting.” Her voice sounds worried, and even when Bucky is in a middle of a mission, his chest felt warm with affection at her worry.

“Uh, yeah. Just exercising.” Just then, a bullet went pass his shoulder. He whipped his head up and fired two shots at the offending person.

“What’s that? Is that a gunshot?” Her voice seem to rise in panic level.

“Oh, haha, some of my friends are playing video games. You know, those shooting kinds.” Bucky raised his rifle and fired two more shots.

“I thought you said you were exercising?”

“Yeah uh, they’re playing right next to me.” Bucky was sweating, and it wasn’t from doing cardio while running away from a bunch of armed men. Damn it, why is it so hard to lie? He heard a slight cackle in the comms line.

“Hey man, sorry for playing so loud.” It was Tony’s voice. Oh shit, he forgot that the comms were public. There was a blast from the other side. “There’s just so many bad guys.”

“Oh, hello?” Charlotte sounds confused, and Bucky wanted to slam his head into a wall when Clint replied next.

“Hey, you must be Bucky’s girl.” The archer’s voice was cheerful. “Sorry man. Bucky’s on the treadmill and the phone was on loudspeaker. Silly him.” Bucky swallowed a mean comment. “I’m Clint by the way.”

“Hi Clint. Charlotte.”

“Oh so you’re Charlotte.” Tony had a fake surprised tone. “Bucky’s told a lot about you. Good things, don’t worry.”

“Really? I’m glad.”

“Yeah. Say, we should all meet for a double date. I’ll bring my girl over, and you can come with Bucky. It’ll be fantastic.”

“Um, yeah sure. That sounds great.” Bucky couldn’t believe this. Tony and his ability to weasel into anything.

“How do you feel about lobster? I know a really great place and-”

“Hey Charlotte.” Bucky cut in. “Can I call you later? Thing’s just really loud here and my friends are all drunk.”

“I’m not drunk-”

“So I gotta go tuck them in bed before they wake up with a hangover.” Bucky could her her little laugh over the line. He smiled a little. “So, I’ll call you back maybe when I’m free?”

“Sure, of course. Sorry for suddenly calling without checking out first.” She sounds apologetic.

“No no, it’s fine. It’s nice hearing your voice.” Bucky spotted a few armed men jogging towards him. “Call you later. Bye.”

“Bye, Bucky.” And the call ended. Bucky aimed and shoot three bullets. All three of them went down.

“Why didn’t anybody tell me that Metallo over here has a girlfriend?” Was Tony’s first question. Bucky sighed loudly as he jogged towards the warehouse after clearing the back area.

“I set him up on a blind date.” Natasha’s voice sounds gleeful through the comms. “She’s really pretty. Like, really really pretty.”

“Bucky wouldn’t let me meet her.” Came Steve’s voice, accompanied by a few grunts. “Said he’ll blow his normal civilian cover.”

“Wait, she doesn’t know he’s the Winter Soldier?” Clint asked. “Damn man, you really keeping a low profile, huh?”

“I say we invite her over. What do you guys think? Call in a few Italian chefs, have a nice little terrace dinner action with the whole crew.”

“Fuck no. I don’t want to drag her into all this mess.” Bucky entered the warehouse, meeting Clint who was pulling out an arrow out of a man he just shot. Bucky grimaced. “Ew dude, do you really do that every time?”

“I’m out of arrows man.” Clint shrugged. Bucky looked scandalized as Clint slipped the arrow back in his quiver.

“This is why I use guns.” He mumbled to himself. “Hey Stevie, got to the server yet?”

“Yeah, just entered. Tony’s here too.”

“JARVIS is doing a sweep up on the room. So far nothing’s been badly damaged by Captain Throw-Everyone-Into-Every-Furniture-In-The-Room America.” Came Tony’s quip. They had a minor argument after that, but that’s how they communicate, Tony trying to rev up Steve’s moral engines and getting him to argue back just for the sake of ‘I can’t lose to Tony Stark’.

“Got everything?” Bucky interrupted when Tony was bringing up the fact that Steve dumps the used coffee beans in the sink grinder rather than throwing them out normally.

“Yeah. You got it all, J?”

“Yes sir. Might I say the files are quite large and heavily encrypted.”

“Thought you like a challenge.”

“I do, sir.”

“Make daddy proud.”

“Ugh, I need a me day.” Bucky heard Steve say. Don’t we all buddy.

 

As soon as they got back, Bucky went straight for the bathtub. Steve knows to just shower at the guest bathroom because Bucky is gonna spend hours under the hot water. Who could blame him? Who wouldn’t want to be immersed in hot water infused with lavender, thyme, sandalwood and jasmine with music playing softly in the background and a good book in hand?

Bucky sighed as he felt himself unwind in the hot water, his muscles relaxing. He fell asleep for a while, and he was awaken by a gentle shake of his shoulder. He blinked up and saw Steve staring down at him.

“Come on, Buck. You’ve been in there for three hours. JARVIS is getting tired of warming up the water for you.” Steve said. He handed Bucky a towel and helped the man up. Bucky was half awake, and he let his friend steer him to their bedroom. He wore whatever shirt and pants Steve threw at him, and he chewed on the ham sandwich Steve shoved into his mouth as the blond dried his hair from the bed.

“Sleepy.” He mumbled.

“Hang on there, Bucky. You gotta drink some water first.”

“No. Sleepy.”

“I know.” Steve’s voice was soft, its tone was one of those used by parents to coerce their young children to do things. Perhaps when he’s fully awake and not tired, he’ll protest, but right now, being pampered and doted on feels fucking awesome. “But you gotta get hydrated first, pal.” Steve sat next to Bucky and handed him a water bottle, already fitted with a straw. As Bucky slowly drank, his head leaned on to Steve’s shoulders. The blond let him, knowing how exhausted his friend might have been.

“Used to be other way around.” Bucky mumbled around his straw.

“Hm?”

“Used to be me taking care of ya sore ass.” Bucky said as he handed Steve back the bottle. A quarter of the water remained, but Steve was pleased that Bucky drank most of it. “Now its you.”

“Well its nice to be the bossy one for once.” Steve smiled. Bucky hummed in agreement. “Get in your blankets. You’re gonna drool all over me.”

“Payback for movie night the other day.”

“Nuh uh. Come on, Sergeant.” Steve slowly stood up, holding Bucky steady with his hands as he pulled back the comfy bedding. He positioned Bucky so that’s he’ll be comfortable before pulling the bedding over him. “Sleep tight, Buck.” He ran his hand through Bucky’s hair a couple of times before the brunette’s breath evened out and Steve was sure he was asleep.

“Steve?” Steve heard a voice call to him from behind. He looked back and saw Tony at his door, all dressed in his expensive pajamas. His eyes were tired. “Pepper’s in LA.” He croaked. “Sudden impromptu meeting.” He said, and Steve understood.

“Your room or the lab?” Steve asked gently.

“Room.” Steve followed Tony to his bedroom, the largest one in the compound. He let Tony climb on first, the short man looking a lot smaller on the ridiculously large bed that was specially made for him. After Tony had climbed on, Steve tucked the blankets around him. While Bucky liked his blankets loose around him, Tony likes his tight. Steve knows from countless of times comforting them after a mission.

“Comfortable, Tony?” he asked. Tony yawned and nodded his head. Tony has this thing for post-mission cuddles. Although he seems nonchalant about it, it was important to his mental health. Usually Pepper gives them, but if their mission ended during the day, she’s unavailable, and it’s up to the rest of the team to provide it. Steve and Bucky were the go-to people (because having Natasha wrapped around you is more frightening than it is comforting) as they were like walking furnaces and has somewhat perfected the technique of cuddling after being alive for almost 100 years.

Steve had climbed up the bed as well and positioned his arm under Tony’s neck. The small man curled into Steve’s embrace, and Steve let him bury his face in the crook of his neck. All of this may seem weird, but they weren’t exactly normal either. Each one of them are their own fucked up person with fucked up histories and odd personalities. Sometimes you just need cuddles to feel better, and the team was very open to things like that. Touch can soothe the jittery nerves that was often bothering the heroes, and they have established that asking for touch isn’t wrong and something to be ashamed off, and giving out touch is something that everyone should do and try to provide (no matter how weird it may sound).

“Sleep, Cap.” Tony muttered. Steve chuckled as he massaged the back of Tony’s neck affectionately. The man purred and melted in his arms.

“You too, Tones.”